The “Green Forum” of the 2018 Macao International Environmental Co-operation Forum & Exhibition (2018MIECF) on the second day (13 April) of the 2018MIECF was conducted with four panel sessions and one special session. The guest panellists shared their thoughts on the development status of eco-cities, “green finance”, the “green chemical” industry and other environmental protection initiatives. Ms. Christiana Figueres, a world authority on global climate change, shared during a special session her views on building an eco-city of the future. Other participants from, respectively, Europe and the Pan-Pearl River Delta (PPRD) Region shared their insights during the “Pan-Pearl River Delta Region Session”.
In the session “Sustainable and Resilient Eco-Cities – Key Challenges and Opportunities”, Mr. Li Jun, Deputy Division Chief of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, served as the keynote speaker for the session’s first sub topic, “From Design to Reality – Exploring Eco-Cities Case Study”, and delivered a speech titled “Modernisation with harmonious co-existence between humans and nature – the practice of model cities and towns in the construction of an ecological civilisation in China.” In his speech, Mr. Li pointed out that ecological construction is about achieving the balance between urban and rural socio-economic development and ecological environmental protection, based on city’s resources and environmental endowments, ensuring the sustainable use of resources, promoting sustainable development. It is necessary to assess the quality of the ecological environment as an essential element in development, and attempt to achieve an internal harmony between the two.
Mr. Li said that in terms of the practice of creating model cities and towns in the drive for construction of an ecological civilisation, emphasis needed to be placed on the set-up of standards and the achievement of balance. There were several features to this. Standards should be set up for the society to enhance the ecological system, improve ecological environment, optimise ecological area, develop ecological economy, pursuit ecologically-sound lifestyle and promote ecological culture. In terms of achievement of balanced development, it is necessary to promote regional synergy to support those regions with a relatively slow pace of development. While pushing ahead towards the balanced development, efforts should also be put into the convergence of ecological standards requirements and the demands of economic and social development, by requesting local governments to devise and carry out long-term development plans, putting endeavour to achieve urban and rural collaborative advancement, strengthening the protection of ecological area, clearly define the responsibility of local officials for the protection of the ecological environment and engaging public participation, etc.
In the “Relationship between Green Buildings & Eco-Cities” – second part of the same session – Dr. Ouyang Zhiyun, Director of the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, gave a speech titled “Urban Ecology and Ecological City Construction”. He stated that China is in a period of rapid urbanisation. More than half of the world’s population live in cities whereas urbanised areas accounts for only 3 percent of land globally. The current urbanisation issue has a great impact on the global environment. The study of urban ecology is now a comprehensive discipline, which can help the human and the natural environments interact with each other in a better way.
Dr. Ouyang pointed out that as compound ecosystems, cities can be transformed by artificial means, but they can never be detached from nature. The ultimate goal of an eco-city is to perfect the functions of ecological regulation, community services and quality of life, improving the relationship between humans and nature. To build ecological cities and ecological communities, we all should reduce the consumption of energy, water, land and other resources and reduce carbon emissions. Efficient, harmonious and healthy development is necessary for humans. When economic practices meet the needs of human development, they must also protect the nature, make efficient use of resources and consider the needs of both contemporary and future generations’ development.
According to Dr. Ouyang, the pursuit of ecological city status is a development trend among global cities. There is currently much room for development. The design of each building must take into account the building’s ecological function. Good water management, green design and wastes treatment are important factors in the creation of eco-cities. This has been pursued all over the world, but mainly in small- and medium-sized cities since large cities have more factors to consider and the direction of development is being explored. Looking into the future, we must reduce urban carbon emissions and respond to climate change; reduce pollutant emissions and enhance urban ecological functions. At the same time, it is necessary to carry out ecological surveys and assessments, optimise development patterns, control environmental pollution, enhance ecological functions, and promote low-carbon lifestyles and “green” development. It is also necessary to enhance technological research regarding ecological city construction, and to support ecological city construction through science and technology.
The session “Green Finance Innovation to Achieve Sustainable Development”, co-organised with the Monetary Authority of Macao (AMCM), was also held on the same morning. Keynote speaker Dr. Ma Jun, Chairman of the Green Finance Committee of China Society for Finance and Banking, and Director of the Center for Finance and Development at the National Institute of Financial Research of Tsinghua University, said that Mainland China is facing pressing problems related to environmental pollution that need timely solutions. Under such circumstances, the Central Government has actively promoted the development of green finance in recent years and established a relatively complete policy framework. Seven ministries, commissions and institutions including the People’s Bank of China had issued the “Guidelines for Establishing a Green Financial System” in 2016. In 2017, the State Council appointed five “green financial reform” pilot zones, including Guangdong.
Dr. Ma said that Mainland China has been supporting the innovation in “green financial products” and encouraging financial institutions with incentives to launch “green credit” products. So far, about 50 “green funds” have been initiated or co-initiated by local governments. More than 200 “green funds” have been initiated in the private sector. At the regulatory level, the regulatory authorities proposed a specific timetable for establishing a mandatory environmental information disclosure system covering all listed companies.
With regard to the situation in Macao, Mr. Ma suggested that Macao can also study the development of “green finance”, such as the issuance of “green bonds”. He believes that with closer co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries under the “Belt and Road” initiative, Macao can use its advantage to seize opportunities and become a platform for raising “green capital” on behalf of Portuguese-speaking countries.
On Friday afternoon, a world authority on global climate change, the current Vice Chair of “The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy” and former Executive Secretary of the “United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change” (2010-2016) Ms. Christiana Figueres shared her insights into the building of future eco-cities. She opined that cities around the world are expanding and the population is growing. This trend is irreversible and it requires a lot of infrastructure and a forward-thinking attitude to support the growth. Moreover, in relation to urbanisation, “decarbonisation” has become a trend. Carbon-intensive industries are also gradually decarbonised, turning societies from high-carbon to low-carbon ones. Carbon-based energy is gradually replaced by renewable energy and clean energy. In recent years, Mainland China has invested a lot in the development of electric vehicles and other environmentally-friendly technologies, indicating the likelihood of China becoming the most influential country in the development of the global environmental protection sector, she noted.
Ms. Figueres believes that an ideal ecological city should be more humane and closer to nature than they were previously. The question now is how city design can turn large-scale and even mega cities into ideal ecological cities. Each city needs to have tailor-made plans as it is impossible to replicate precisely what other cities do since the conditions are different from place to place. She hopes that responsible development approaches are adopted by mega-cities and urban conurbations in this century, where electric vehicles are replacing diesel vehicles, clean energy are being developed simultaneously, power stations with clean electric power are covering wider area, the nature is being integrated in human’s transportation, housing and other aspects, and people are establishing a green lifestyle.